I have posted a thread on this forum before about the ranking of patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches in the order of precedence. It was my belief that cardinals outrank patriarchs. Most other posters said that patriarchs outrank cardinals. The consensus appeared to be that as patriarchs are the primates of sui iuris Churches and that cardinal is simply an honorary title it stood to reason that patriarchs ranked higher.

These arguments more or less convinced me. One thing still puzzled me though. If a patriarch is given a cardinalate he’s made a cardinal of the episcopal order but the six Latin cardinals of the episcopal order outrank Eastern patriarchs who are cardinals of the episcopal order.

I’m now more confused because an Eastern hierarch has made a proposal to the Synod, currently happening in Rome, that patriarchs should be promoted to rank above cardinals. If patriarchs already outrank cardinals as many posters in my previous thread claimed why would this proposal need putting to the Synod?

If you’re confused that means your brain chemistry map is re-organizing. :thumbsup:

I will try to help you on this, In the Church, there are only two types of ordination, the priestly and the bishop ordination. There are cardinals who are lay, priest and Bishop, that being said, Cardinal is function or position or an official in the Catholic Church, specifically serving the Pope in Rome, since they help the Pope in administering the entire church including the Eastern Churches. Also, the Cardinal Bishop has the opportunity to become Pope as they are the one designated to elect the next Pope.

While the Patriarch administers his own sui juris church, the Cardinal is not higher than him except if the Pope instructed him to do so as a representative of the Pope himself. Otherwise he has no power over the Patriarch

Also, there are Cardinals who are also Eastern Patriarch,

Now, if the eastern hierarch would like to have a rank over the cardinal, i believe he would like to bring back the old times where only the bishop of each churches participate in the synod and when the Patriarch decides on the synod all of his bishops agrees with him (well with the approval of all of his bishops of course)

hope that make sense

To me it sounds like the Patriarchs would like to automatically out rank any Latin Bishop upon entering the cardinalate. Within the normal hierarchy of the Church Patriarchs outrank Cardinals, but the internal hierarchy of the cardinalate is divided upon among Cardinal Deacons, Cardinal Priests, and Cardinal Bishops. Which order of Cardinal one belongs to depends on one’s tenure within the cardinalate. So a Latin Bishop who has been a Cardinal for, I believe 15 years, would be a Cardinal Bishop and out rank a Patriarch who had just joined the cardinalate and would therefore be a Cardinal Deacon. I believe the Patriarchs wish to be immediately included as Cardinal Bishops, so that Latin Bishops whom they out rank in the normal hierarchy would not out rank them in the internal hierarchy of the cardinalate.

I don’t know if EC Patriarchs outrank Cardinals of the Roman Church. Many EC’s would say that it is only appropriate that this should be so, but I doubt if Rome would agree. The fact that this topic is raised at the Middle Eastern Synod suggests that Cardinals officially, from Rome’s POV, do outrank EC Patriarchs (and there are Latin Patriarchs as well).

The role of the Cardinal is an exclusive Roman Church affair. His function is mainly to elect a pope. Other than ensuring that the EC churches have a say in the election of a pope, there is no reason why EC Patriarchs should be made Cardinals.

When the UGCC Patriarch Lubomyr received the Cardinal’s ring, he quickly took it off and put it in his pocket . . . he said he would only wear it when he would be in Rome.

Interestingly, a full 25% of Orthodox in Kyiv thought the primate of the UGCC is a very influential churchman. In my experience, Orthodox from Ukraine find it much more impressive that he is a Cardinal (I guess one too many patriarchs there already!). For a number of Ukrainian Orthodox, the Cardinalate is what links not only the UGCC but Ukraine itself with Europe etc. That is a separate discussion.

There is the argument that Eastern Catholics need not worry about participating in the election of a Pope since the Patriarch/other Primate is the immediate jurisdictional head of the EC Particular Churches which are in communion with the Roman Pontiff.

I think it is only proper for an EC Patriarch to be a Cardinal as a way to underscore the right of the EC Particular Churches to govern themselves, as elucidated by Vatican II, even from the vantage point of having a say in the election of a Pope.

The issue of precedence has a long and sometimes sad history with respect to the Eastern Catholic Churches.

For example, in RC Poland in the 17th and 18th centuries, during processions of the Catholic hierarchy, the Eastern Catholic Metropolitan-Archbishop of Kyiv followed only after the last Latin Catholic bishop. There was the view that Eastern Catholics, insofar as they followed the Eastern liturgical traditions seen as “schismatic” by Latin Catholics, were not “completely Catholic” as this would have entailed a complete adoption of the Latin Rite. There was the view that the Latin Rite was “higher” than any other Rite etc. and I have a Slavonic EC prayerbook that contains rules under which Latin Catholics could receive Holy Communion in an EC church - the rules are such that such “intercommunion” is entirely dissuaded for Latin Catholics. And so forth . . .

I think also that it is more to the point that Patriarchs work to restore all their rights as true “Orthodox Catholic Churches in communion with Rome” in the first instance.


Now I’m confused - Patriarchs are above Metroplitan-Archbishops. Do you mean to say that if they become Cardinals, they start out as “Cardinal Deacons?” How does that work?

I don’t believe they want to outrank anyone in the Roman Church - they want to ensure that their Patriarchal status and that of their Particular Church is respected and acknowledged. The ceremony for “creating a patriarch” in the Eastern Catholic Churches reflects the way the Pharaoh of Egypt raised Joseph, the Son of Jacob and the words are: “You are equal to me, but I am greater than you.”

But I think you assume too much by saying that the Patriarchs want to outrank others here.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Pope is higher than cardinals already and formerly held the title “Patriarch of the West” - so there is a precedent already that a patriarch is higher than a cardinal. The Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches are in communion with the Patriarch of the West or the Pope - that suggests that Cardinals are integral members of the “Papal household” directly.


It’s not exactly because of “outranking” but more to the point of it’s being an unnecessary honorific. Perhaps this would all be better suited to the [thread=503582]Re: Middle East Synod: “Power to the Patriarchs”[/thread]. I added a post there, referencing your post here.

Only if there is more than one Patriarch emeritus. EC Patriarchs elevated to the cardinality are in the order of cardinals-patriarch, as cardinal of their patriarchal see. If, however, the Patriarch Emeritus lives, he holds the patriarchal see as Cardinal, and the current patriarch is usually straight to Cardinal Bishop if a see is available, and gets the highest cardinalate see available.

All OTHER cardinals normally start at Cardinal-Deacon.

OK, so if I get bashed over the head there . . . you will know about it . . .:smiley:


No doubt. :smiley: But I’ll probably get bashed first. :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote="Alexander Roman]OK, so if I get bashed over the head there . . . you will know about it . . .


how can a lay Cardinal or a Priest Cardinal be higher than a Patriarch who is a bishop? the highest ordination in the church is the Bishop who has apostolic succession. Cardinals has a function that helps the Pope administers the Church. Also, the Pope, the Patriarchs and Cardinal Bishops are all equal bishops in the Universal Church. The Pope differs from the rest of the bishops because he has the charism of Infallibility.
otherwise Cardinal bishops and Patriarchs are equal bishops with different function. As i said in the earlier post. the Cardinal has no power over the Patriarch unless if he is directly representing the Pope.

No doubt. :smiley: But I’ll probably get bashed first. :stuck_out_tongue:


walla :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

The Pope wears many hats, including the Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Rome. That doesn’t mean a diocesan Bishop outranks a cardinal. You just can’t separate the Pope into the roles he has. He outranks everyone because he’s the Pope, regardless of the other hats he wears.

Three-- deacon, priest, bishop. :slight_smile:

I hope that you are very, very wrong. Because if my brain chemistry is reorganising I’m in serious trouble.:eek: If I’m just misunderstanding I’d live happier with that.:smiley:

I was under the impression that Patriarchs indeed “outrank” Cardinals, and the fact that some Patriarchs were made Cardinals is indeed a sore point for some Eastern Catholics. The most famous example I can think of is when Archbishop Elias Zoghby (Melkite) resigned in protest when the Melkite Patriarch accepted being made a Cardinal after/around Vatican II.

I wonder if Canon 58 of the CCEO refers to this subject?:

Canon 58

Patriarchs of Eastern Churches precede all bishops of any degree

everywhere in the world, with due regard for special norms of

precedence established by the Roman Pontiff.

It seems to me the operative phrase is “with due regards for the special norms of precedence established by the Roman Pontiff.”
God Bless, Pakesh

Thank you for the responses to my OP. I hadn’t anticipated such a generous response but I think it will take a little time for me to read through them.

I believe that you may have slipped up here: there are three times of ordination – deacon, priest, and bishop.

Only priests or bishops can be elevated to the cardinalate, not laymen.

Any rank of cardinal can be elected as Pope not just those of the episcopal order. In fact, although the cardinals usually elect one of their number, the potential candidates for the office of Pope are not confined to the cardinals.

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